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Brendan McCarthy

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About Brendan McCarthy

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    Arts Editor, 'The Tablet'; writer for 'Dance Now'; adult ballet student
  • City**
    London, UK
  1. See also David Vaughan's review of Stephanie Jordan's 'Ashton to Stravinsky' video
  2. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the main story was not offered online.
  3. Dear Volkmar The reference I've been given for the Drid Williams essay is: 1994: 'The Latin High Mass: the Dominican Tridentine Rite' [JASHM Monograph 1 - Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement]. Autumn term, Vol 8, No 2 pp vii-87. Here's a short biographical note about Drid Williams I hope the moderators won't mind if I offer a link to one other piece I've written. It's an interview with the English choreographer David Bintley, the director of Birmingham Royal Ballet, whose religious convictions run deep. Best wishes with your research. Brendan
  4. I hope it's not too late to add some thoughts to this thread. You mention that you are a Jesuit. Have you come across Judith Rock's Terpsichore at Louis-le-Grand (Baroque Dance on the Jesuit Stage in Paris)? It's a study of baroque ballets staged by Jesuit teachers between 1660 and 1762, published in 1996 by the Institute of Jesuit Sources in St Louis. Apparently it was conventional wisdom in Paris at the time that "there is no one like the Jesuits for doing pirouettes". I hope you will think this a good augur for your research. One your other Jesuit confreres, Claude François Menestrier, wrote a treatise in 1682, Des Ballets ancienes et modernes seolon les règles du théâtre. He is one of ballet's earliest historians and (I think) may have organised some of the dances at Louis-le-Grand. The seam you intend to explore is potentially quite rich. It's arguable that Frederick Ashton cannot be completely understood in abstraction from the Catholicism he knew as a child in South America. Leigh Witchel was kind enough to mention some pieces I've written for The Tablet. I've put the Ashton piece on a (dormant) weblog. It's short and was written for a Catholic readership, but you may find it of some help. Have you thought about the anthropologist Drid Williams? She has (I haven't actually read the article, I'm afraid) analysed the Catholic Mass as a choreographed ritual. The other piece of preparation I would suggest is immersion in Joan Acocella's pieces for the New Yorker. She has a sensibility that is quintessentially Catholic (see this interview with Suzanne Farrell) - I love her observation on Balanchine - "Religion need not make a person rapt and impractical. For every St. Francis, there is a St. Dominic. I think that Balanchine's faith in a world beyond time is a large part of what enabled him to work so pragmatically within time - to have what I call an aesthetic of improvisation. This is an old story: a firm structure bestows freedom." About John Neumeier: have a look at a programme note he wrote about his Saint Matthew Passion. It was shown on Bavarian TV and 3Sat on Good Friday. Did you see it? And another Jesuit reference: William Forsythe and your confrere Friedhelm Mennekes SJ took part in a forum on Bridges to the future - museums, music and the performing arts in the 21st century. This is the link.
  5. BBC Radio 3 has just given news of Moira Shearer's death. There has also been a report on the Edinburgh Evening News website
  6. There are long sections of the Hodson/Archer Sacre in the BBC's forthcoming drama feature Riot at the Rite, probably to be shown in early February. The cast is drawn from the Finnish National Ballet, with Zenaida Yanowksy of the Royal Ballet as the chosen one. I'm sure that the BBC will sell the programme internationally.
  7. On Friday night Tony Dyson, to whom Frederick Ashton left Enigma Variations and Monotones, announced the formation of an Ashton Trust, whose membership will consist initially of the owners of the rights to the Ashton ballets. In addition to Tony Dyson, they include Wendy Ellis Somes, Derek Rencher, Phoebe Fonteyn, Anthony Dowell, Alexander Grant and Anthony Russell-Roberts. This is excellent news - and an admirable tribute to Ashton's memory on the day of his centenary.
  8. To return to Persephone being 'lost forever'. Stephanie Jordan and Geraldine Morris's forthcoming film ' 'Ashton to Stravinsky' features archive film of Svetlana Beriosova and Keith Rosson in an extract from the ballet and also a short sequence in which Christopher Newton and Monica Mason teach a section to a group of RB dancers. As I understand it, there is an archive film of the entire work. While it is of tolerable quality, the drawback is that there is no sound. In Jordan's video, a piano reduction by Henry Roche, the Royal Ballet's head of music staff, is synched up with the film.
  9. I don't think it is Anthony Russell-Roberts' view that Persephone has been 'lost forever'. There is a mute film of the original cast, not ideal perhaps, but it is in sufficient quality to make a reconstruction possible.
  10. An interview/feature with James MacMillan in Saturday's Glasgow Herald will, I think, explain a great deal about Shambards. This is the 'print' version of the interview (just click 'OK' to get rid of the dialogue box!).
  11. I was surprised by how unmoved I was by the violence in Gibson's film. While my intention was to view it "through eyes of faith", I thought the film missed the emotional and spiritual heart of the Passion. That said, even bad - or indifferent - art can offer material for spiritual reflection. It was a useful reminder that the Cross is not a logo and that the Crucifixion was a brutal and ugly affair. I watched the film in Holy Week and it did add depths to my Good Friday thoughts on the trauma felt by Mary and the disciples in the hours afterwards - and to my reflection on the possibility that "this was all there was". I did think there was a basis for the charges of anti-semitism - an over-enthusiastic evocation of the authority of the high priests and - in particular a scene in which two young children turn out to be demons. Jewish critics can reasonably claim to be more sensitive to antisemitic nuances than non Jewish observers.
  12. When the Royal Opera House recently received a gift of £10 million from the Donald Gordon Foundation there was an implication that some ROH productions would be seen at the Wales Millennium Centre
  13. On Leigh's point, I have the impression that the negotiation of artists' rights is less complex in Europe than in the U.S. If NYCB has a veto, the effect of this is that much Balanchine will remain unavailable on commercial video until the material is out of copyright, since NYCB has -presumably - no plans of its own in that direction. If an enterprising producer were to propose a Kirov/Balanchine DVD (with potentially less complex artists' rights issues), the project would presumably fall on similar grounds to the BBC/Royal Ballet project. If market conditions in the U.S. limit the possibilities there of getting a work such as Agon on commercial video, it seems a shame that this in turn should limit the possibilities of making progress elsewhere.
  14. Thank you all for your very detailed - and helpful - answers. In answer to Leigh, the Royal Ballet 'Stravinsky Staged' triple bill was in 2001. The BBC recorded the programme, Agon excepted. Is Agon's unavailability on DVD/VHS for commerical reasons (perhaps no producer thought it made financial sense) or has the Trust put difficulties in the way? Agon is the major focus of Stephanie Jordan's video "Music Dances: Balanchine choreographs Stravinsky. But the rights situation is so impossible that the video is for sale to educational institutions only
  15. I don't know if this is the appropriate place for this question, but is there a complete performance of Agon available anywhere on video/DVD? I know that the BBC had hoped to include a Royal Ballet performance of the work in its Stravinsky video (which includes Firebird and Les Noces), but that permission was refused by the Balanchine Trust (for 'artistic reasons')
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